Welcome to Helix
Although Helix may appear complicated at first glance, it's designed in such a way that once you learn a few basic concepts and shortcuts, you'll be able to construct both simple and complex tones at nearly the speed of thought, with very little menu diving required.
You're likely anxious to rip open the plastic and plug in, wait! At the very least, check out the big color Helix Cheat Sheet that came in the box, and keep it handy. Then read the "Quick Start" chapter of this manual and we'll have you up and shredding in no time.
If you prefer to edit tones from your Mac® or PC, download the free Helix editor application from line6.com/software.
Be sure to also visit line6.com/videos where we're always adding new video tutorials covering the latest Line 6 gear!
Blocks are objects that represent various elements of your tone, such as amps, cabs, effects, splits, loopers, inputs, outputs, and impulse responses. The HX Stomp pedal can accommodate up to eight simultaneous amp, cab, IR, effects, and/or looper blocks, DSP permitting.
Controllers are used to adjust various parameters in real-time. For example, an external expression pedal can be used to control wah, or the mod wheel on your MIDI keyboard can be used to control delay feedback and reverb depth.
DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) refers to any computer (iPad or iPhone mobile devices) used for audio recording. The components of a DAW include an audio interface, audio recording software (such as Cubase®, Logic, GarageBand, Pro Tools®, etc.), and a monitoring system (amplifier & speakers or headphones). Helix functions as a high-performance USB 2.0 audio interface with all major DAW software
FRFR (Full Range, Flat Response) speakers have the ability to amplify a modeler without adversely affecting its tone, ensuring great detail, a wide sweet spot, predictability, and consistency from studio to stage. You could almost think of FRFR monitors as very loud, gig-ready studio monitors.
The Home screen is your primary workspace for creating and editing tones. If you ever get lost, press the home button to return to the Home screen. HX Effects has no home screen.
IRs (Impulse Responses) are mathematical functions representing the sonic measurements of audio systems. HX Stomp can store up to 128 custom or third-party IRs at a time.
L6 LINK provides easy, single-cable, digital audio connectivity and remote control ability between Helix and Line 6 Powercab® active guitar speaker systems and DT-Series amplifiers.
Each processing block can accommodate one model (or, in some cases, two models). Helix, LT, Rack, and HX Stomp includes over 80 guitar and bass amps, over 40 cabs, and over 220 effects models. HX Effects excludes amp and cab models.
A path represents the signal flow of your tone. HX Stomp as a single path while Helix, LT, and Rack have two separate paths. Each path has its own input(s) and output(s). Paths can be serial (single) or parallel (dual). Path 1 can be routed into path 2 (if available) for more sophisticated tones.
A preset is a collection of blocks. It consists of all effects, snapshots, footswitch assignments, controller assignments, and Command Center messages.
Sends and Returns are used to connect additional equipment for effects loops, processing multiple instruments simultaneously, connecting to your guitar amp via 4-Cable Method.
Helix and Rack have four mono sends and returns, but adjacent pairs can be selected for stereo operation. Helix LT and HX Effects have two mono sends and returns, which can also be paired for stereo operation. HX Stomp has a stereo TRS send and separate left and right returns.
A setlist is a collection of presets. Helix, LT, and Rack have eight setlists containing 128 presets each.
Variax isn’t just a great guitar, it also contains special electronics that recreate the sound of other specific guitars and instruments and allow for instant retuning of each string. Helix and Variax communicate with one another in unique and powerful ways.
1. Main Display This large color LCD is your window into the power of Helix.
2. PRESET Turn this knob to select a preset. Press the knob to open the Setlist menu. See "Selecting Presets and Setlists"
3. SAVE Press this button to rename and save changes to a preset.
4. MENU Press this button to dive a bit deeper into Helix, and you'll find Command Center, Global EQ, Global Settings, and other menus.
5. HOME If you ever get lost, press this button to return to the main Home screen.
6. AMP Press this button once, or multiple times, to quickly jump to the tonestack parameters (Gain, Bass, Mid, Treble, etc.) of any Amp+Cab, Amp, and Preamp models in the current preset.
7. JOYSTICK Move the joystick to navigate the main display. On the Home screen, move the joystick to select a block. Press ACTION and move the joystick to move the selected block. Turn the joystick to change the selected block's model. Press the joystick to open the model list. Yeah, the joystick does a lot.
8. BYPASS Press this button to turn the selected block on and off.
Press and hold BYPASS to turn Global EQ on and off.
9. ACTION Press this button to open the action panel for the selected block or screen. From the Home screen, the action panel lets you move, copy, paste, and clear blocks. Other screens may have unique action panels; for example, the Global Settings action panel lets you reset all global settings at once.
10. < PAGE/PAGE > If the selected block or item has more than one page of parameters, dots appear to the right of the item's name. Press < PAGE or PAGE > to view more parameters.
11. Knobs 1-6 Turn one of the six knobs below the main display to adjust the parameter's value above; press the knob to reset the parameter's value. If a rectangular button appears above a knob, press the knob to engage its function.
For most time-based parameters such as delay time or modulation speed, press the knob to toggle between setting the value in ms or Hz and note divisions (1/4-note, dotted 1/8-note, etc.).
Controllers can be assigned to most parameters. Press and hold a parameter's knob to quickly jump to the "Controller Assign" page for that parameter.
12. VOLUME Turn this knob to control the Helix device's main output volume.
13. PHONES Turn this knob to control volume from the PHONES output.
14. Scribble Strips The thirteen Helix LCD scribble strips tell each footswitch's current assignment, so there are never any surprises during a show. If a particular footswitch has more than one block or item assigned, the scribble strip may read "MULTIPLE (X)," where X is the number of assignments. You can custom label scribble strips - see "Customizing a Footswitch Label"
15. Footswitches The capacitive, touch-sensitive footswitches have colored LED rings that tell you the current state of the assigned block or item. While in Stomp footswitch mode, touch (but don't press) a footswitch to quickly select the assigned block or item. Touch the switch repeatedly to cycle through multiple assigned items. See "Stomp Footswitch Mode"
While in Stomp footswitch mode, touch (but don't press) a footswitch for two seconds to assign that switch to the selected block.
While in Stomp footswitch mode, touch and hold (but don't press) two switches to swap all assignments between them (including any custom scribble strip names or LED colors).
Touch (but don't press) TAP to briefly display the tempo panel. This lets you quickly fine-tune the current tempo without navigating to the Global Settings > MIDI/Tempo menu.
The "Touch-Select" feature can optionally be turned off, and other footswitch settings customized - See "Global Settings > Footswitches"
16. Expression Pedal Move the expression pedal to control volume, wah, or a combination of amp and/or effects parameters. Activate the hidden toe switch to toggle between EXP 1 and EXP 2. (The scribble strip above tells you which one is active.) If an external pedal is connected to the rear panel EXP 2 jack, the built-in pedal becomes EXP 1 only. See "Controller Assign"
Adding a Wah or Pitch Wham block automatically assigns it to EXP
- Adding a Volume Pedal or Pan block automatically assigns it to EXP 2.
17. EXP 2 and 3 Two additional expression pedals can be connected to Helix and assigned to adjust a wide variety of parameters. See "Controller Assign"
18. EXT AMP 1/2 Connect to your traditional guitar amp to switch its channels or turn its reverb on and off. Use a TRS cable for dual operation (1=tip, 2=ring).
19. CV/Expression Out Connect to the expression pedal input on stompboxes or CV (Control Voltage) input on vintage pedals or synths.
20. GUITAR IN Connect your primary guitar or bass guitar here. This jack provides impedance selection and a switchable pad.
21. AUX IN (10kΩ) Connect a secondary, active-pickup equipped guitar or bass here.
22. MIC IN Plug your microphone in here for processing your vocals or recording to your computer via USB. This XLR jack provides 48V phantom power for studio condenser mics and a variable low cut filter.
23. SENDS/RETURNS 1-4 These 1/4" ins and outs can be used as FX loops for inserting external stompboxes into your tone or as additional inputs and outputs for connecting keyboards, drum machines, mixers, and other gear. See "Send/Return"
24. Ground Lift Switch If you are experiencing hums and buzzes, press this button in to eliminate ground loops between your equipment.
25. XLR OUT Use balanced XLR cables to connect to your studio gear or the house mixer, PA or FRFR speaker(s) when playing live. When using a mono playback system, connect only the LEFT/MONO XLR jack.
Never connect the Helix device's XLR outputs to a device whose XLR inputs have 48V phantom power enabled!
26. 1/4" OUT Use unbalanced 1/4" TS cables to connect to your guitar amp, FRFR speaker(s), studio monitors, or other playback system. When using a single amp or speaker, connect only the LEFT/MONO 1/4" jack.
27. PHONES Out (12Ω) Connect stereo headphones here; turn the top panel PHONES knob to adjust volume.
Helix provides plenty of gain for high impedance headphones. With lower impedance headphones, you may notice a bit of distortion if the PHONES knob is turned all the way up. This is normal.
28. VARIAX Input This input provides power, digital audio, effects control, and instant recall between Helix and a Line 6 Variax guitar.
29. MIDI IN, OUT/THRU Connect Helix to your MIDI gear for sending and receiving program changes, continuous controllers, and other MIDI messages.
30. S/PDIF IN/OUT Digitally connect Helix to your studio equipment via S/PDIF (75-ohm RCA) cables.
S/PDIF and AES/EBU cannot be active at the same time. See "Global Settings > Ins/Outs"
31. AES/EBU, L6 LINK L6 LINK provides easy digital audio connectivity between Helix and Line 6 Stage Source monitors and/or DT-Series amplifiers. Alternatively, digitally connect Helix to your studio equipment via an AES/EBU (110Ω XLR) cable. See "L6 LINK Output"
32. USB Helix also functions as a high quality, multi-in/out, 24-bit/96kHz audio interface for Mac® and Windows® computers, with DI, Re-amping and MIDI functionality built right in. Helix can also record to an Apple iPad (with optional Apple Camera Connection Kit). Use of a USB 2.0 or 3.0 port is required - Do not use an external USB hub. See "USB Audio"
33. AC In Connect Helix to a grounded AC power outlet.
34. POWER switch It's alive!